Jennings Vest Victorious in Pure Stock Special
Jennings Vest picked the perfect night to end his winless drought that had lasted longer than Dale Earnhardt, Jr’s winless streak. Natural Bridge Speedway hosted a thirty lap pure stock special event this past Saturday night and Jennings Vest returned to victory lane for the first time in the modern era. Buena Vista’s Chris Barger picked up his first victory in the late model division while Todd Campbell, David Brogan, and Mike Lawhorne all picked up feature event wins.
The pure stock drivers took part in hot lap qualifying earlier in the night. Daniel Barbour, who won last weeks feature event, was the fastest qualifier. Barbour then drew a number four inversion pill which put Vest on the pole. Vest jumped to the lead at the drop of the green flag. Howard Hall quickly moved up to the second spot and immediately started to apply pressure to Vest. Each lap Hall would look both to the inside and then the outside but Vest denied his challenges. Hall’s fortune would change on lap number eight when he felt something break in the rear end of his machine. He would drop to the back of the pack and ride collecting championship points. Barbour, who spun early in the event, recovered and worked his way back to the front of the field. Barbour, using the low groove, also tried to dethrone Jennings but once again Barbour found himself in trouble with another spin.
At the half way point the running order was Vest, Lee Brooks, Brandon Ramsey, Ben Hamilton, and Jonathan Burks. Vest opened up nearly a three second lead during the second half of the race until a late race caution would bunch the field up for a four lap shootout. Once again, Vest nailed the restart and never looked back. Vest held on to pick up his first win of the season. Brooks crossed the stripe second, followed by Daniel Shuey, Burks, and Ramsey. A jubilant Vest picked up three hundred dollars for his victory in the pure stock special.
The sportsman division kicked off the night’s racing program. Eric Groah set fast time in qualifying and drew a number three inversion pill. Although Groah started third he had the lead by the end of the first lap. However, his lead would be short lived. While leading and pulling away from the field, Groah’s machine let out a small cloud of smoke and he pulled to the inside of the track. Groah’s night would end with a broken rear suspension part. Todd Campbell inherited the lead and led the remaining twenty-three laps. Shad Cooper, last week’s winner, came home second. Shawn Wetzel, Eric Groah, and Ronnie Martin, Jr. rounded out the top five.
Chris Barger’s night was as good as it gets. First he was the fastest qualifier among the late model competitors. He started the feature event on the outside pole and led every lap of the thirty-five late feature to pick up his first win of the season. Barger jumped to the lead over pole sitter Larry Ramsey at the drop of the green flag. Early in the event Barger was stout and pulled to a five car length lead over Ramsey. The races lone caution flag flew on lap number nine when Ricky Knight and Michael Alderman both slowed on the track with mechanical problems. Barger once again opened up several car lengths on Ramsey on the restart. Ramsey and Gerald Wolfe were able to close in on Barger each time Barger encountered lapped traffic. Barger carefully worked his way around the back markers and held on to win his first feature event of 2012. Barger’s win puts Barger atop the late model point’s standings. Ramsey held on for second and Wolfe third. JR Overstreet and Ricky Wells both had solid top five finishes.
Earl Brooks, Jr. took control of the street stock feature event and seemed poised to take the victory. However, the man on the move was David Brogan. Brogan started back in the sixth position and steadily marched his way to the front. Once in the runner-up spot Brogan went to work on race leader Brooks. Brogan used every groove on the perfectly prepared racing surface looking for a way around Brooks. While Brooks was protecting the bottom of the speedway Brogan jumped to the outside off of turn number four and took the lead with two laps to go. Brogan raced away with the victory over Brooks, Scottie Hostetter, Tom Guthrie, and Chip Glass.
The All-American feature ran caution free but was not settled until the closing laps. Ryan Kassab started on the pole and took the lead on the opening lap. Mike Lawhorne ran in the runner-up spot most of the feature and kept the pressure on Kassab. Kassab and Lawhorne ran two totally different grooves. Kassab used the top and Lawhorne the bottom of the race track. Kassab held the lead until five laps to go when he went too high in turns three and four and allowed both Lawhorne and Glen Almond to slip past. Lawhorne led the final five laps to take the win. Almond, Kassab, Rich Zowaski, and Brandon Link completed the top five.
Natural Bridge Speedway will host five divisions of racing again this Saturday night, Aug. 11. The point’s battles all take shape as the summer season begins to wind down. Gates are scheduled to open at 4:00 pm; driver’s meeting at 6:00 pm, and on track activities begin at 6:15.